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Cain puts himself among the elite

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Matt Cain meet the world. World meet Matt Cain.

Die hard baseball fans realize just how good Cain is, but did the casual fan? Probably not. Well they know now, as Cain has his team halfway to their first World Series title in 56 years following yet another terrific performance on Thursday in the Giants' 9-0 Game 2 win.

Cain, who did not allow an earned run over 13 2/3 frames in the NLDS and NLCS, continued to baffle hitters by scattering four hits and two walks while striking out two in another outstanding performance for the 26-year-old hurler.

"Cain was good. We had some opportunities early, but he made his pitches," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "That's what he does well. We just couldn't get it done. We have to tip our hat to the pitcher."

Before the World Series all you heard about was Cliff Lee and to a lesser extent, Cain's teammate Tim Lincecum. Maybe we should have paid a little more attention to Cain. I mean, as good as Lee was, Cain had surrendered just an unearned run in his first two postseason starts.


Matt Cain is now one of five pitchers to toss at least 20 innings without allowing an earned run.
"I've said this before: He's probably been the most consistent pitcher really from Day 1," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his starter, who has posted a 3.27 ERA over the past three seasons. "He's such a bulldog out there. He's taken charge, and he's the guy we want out there in a big game."

Pretty high praise considering Cain pitches alongside the National League's two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner.

With his heroics in this postseason, Cain is now one of five pitchers to toss at least 20 innings without allowing an earned run. Detroit's Kenny Rogers was the last to do it in 2006 and it was also accomplished by a pair of former Giants -- Christy Mathewson (27 innings in 1905) and Carl Hubbell (20 innings in '33).

Again, not bad company to be in.

Cain is now the eighth pitcher to make three consecutive postseason starts without giving up an earned run, and just the fourth to do so in his first three chances. New York Mets lefty Jon Matlack last did it in 1973.

"You know, it's been feeling good," Cain said. "[Catcher] Buster [Posey] has done a great job of really pushing me to throw pitches in different counts, so I owe a ton of credit to him. But we've just been really trying to work ahead of the guys in every start I've had."

Ladies and gentleman a superstar is born.

RANGERS BATS FALL SILENT

How many times have you heard that good pitching beats good hitting? I would say I probably have heard that about a million times, yet even after being reminded of that before this series I still thought the Rangers would roll in this series.

Maybe I should have thought about it a little harder.

Texas, which had homered in each of its first 11 games of the postseason, has been kept inside the park and that potent offense that the Rangers displayed against the New York Yankees in the ALCS has been completely held in check.

The Rangers were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are a combined 3-for-25 (.120) in the World Series. The team as a whole is hitting just .227 as a team.

"That, more or less, has to do with the pitching we've been facing," Washington said. "You know, those guys were good, especially [Matt] Cain tonight. We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches."

HISTORY ON THE GIANTS SIDE

The Giants are the 52nd team to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series. Only 11 of the previous 51 have blown such a lead, the last being the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who lost the final four games of that series to the New York Yankees. Even further, the last seven and 13 of the last 14 to take such a lead have gone on to win the series.

Since 1985, 17 of the last 25 World Series have headed to Game 3 with one team on top, 2-0. Thirteen of the previous 16 went on to win the Series. In addition to the Braves, the 1986 Red Sox and the 1985 Cards also blew such leads.

The home team has taken a 2-0 lead 35 times in the Series and has won 28 of those previous 34. Since the 1981 Yankees went up 2-0 at home but lost the Series, the last 11 home teams that took a 2-0 lead went on to win.

You might want to hold off on the ginger ale.

LOOKING AHEAD TO GAME 3

So now Texas turns to right-hander Colby Lewis, who has been the surprise of the postseason for the Rangers, going 2-0 in his three starts while pitching to a 1.45 ERA.

"I just have to take it like any of the other 35 starts [this season]," Lewis said after Thursday's loss. "That's the way you've got to look at it. You've got to keep doing what you've done all year."

Lewis' two wins came in the ALCS against the Yanks, as he pitched the Rangers into the World Series with eight innings of one-run ball in the Game 6 clincher.

"We have confidence in all of our starters," Young said. "But Colby's coming off the win that got us to the World Series, and we have a ton of confidence in him."

Lewis had spent the previous two seasons in Japan, but returned to the majors this season and went 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA with wins in three of his last four decisions.

San Francisco, meanwhile, will hand the ball to left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who is 0-1 this postseason with a 2.93 ERA. Sanchez, though, failed to get out of the third inning in the Giants' Game 6 clincher against the Phillies, as he allowed two runs and three hits and walked a pair before exiting.

"I did the same things I had always done, and that day I just didn't have it," Sanchez said. "But we're all human. We have bad days, and we have good days. We all do."

Sanchez, though, was the Giants' best pitcher down the stretch of the regular season, pitching to a 1.03 ERA over his final seven starts.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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